The spring of 1921 saw Van Dongen embroiled in a 'grande scandale' in Paris with the exhibition of his celebrated portrait of Anatole France at the Nationale. Van Dongen met a hail of criticism for portraying the grand man of French letters as an old man. One commentator said that Van Dongen had made the famous writer look like a camembert. Van Dongen retreated to Venice in the company of the exotic figure of the Marchesa Casati. 'He met this notorious femme-fatale, who embodied all the extravagance and vice of the fin-de-sicle in 1921, through Jasmy. The Casati introduced him into a very different society than that he had known until then - in which complexity and elegance abounded and which was inhabited by beautiful, supercilious and neurotic woman. It meant a change in his life and with typical cynicism he remarked: "There was less colour but the women smelt better!" Van Dongen and the Casati were together in Venice where he painted a charming and witty series of Venetian scenes which possess a balletic grace and which were published by Bernheim' (D. Sutton, Van Dongen, 1971, p. 48).
'Venise a inspir de nombreux peintres, mais elle a surement exerc sur Van Dongen un charme particulier: il en ramen des images fascinantes o, dans ses sites rputs, baignant dans une lumire intense, voluent d'lgantes Parisiennes. Van Dongen fait apparatre Venise sous un jour nouveau. Et c'est tout naturellement lui que s'addressera Paul Leclre, en 1925, pour l'illustration de sa narration potique Venise, seuil des Eaux' (J. Kyriazi, Van Dongen aprs le Fauvisme, Lausanne, 1987, p. 40).
The Wildenstein Institute will include this painting in their forthcoming Van Dongen catalogue raisonn.